He had never played quarterback at the high school level, but Conway Christian’s Chandler Ferrand has thrived under center in his senior season.
Ferrand had played receiver for the Eagles and had a stellar junior season, racking up more than 1,000 receiving yards in the Eagles’ spread passing attack.
But the graduation of 14 seniors, including their record-setting signal-caller Tanner Stevenson had head coach Michael Carter looking for a quarterback.
"He’s always been so athletic, had such a strong arm," Carter said, "And he is very smart."
Ferrand has made Carter look pretty smart this season. The senior has averaged more than 300 yards of total offense in the regular season and compiled that much again last Friday in a 36-28 win over the Walnut Ridge Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs.
Ferrand rushed for a 1-yard TD and threw for four more, including a 45-yarder to John Mark Wood and three more to Casey Roark. The first connection to Roark was for 61 yards, followed by scoring passes of 27 and 12 yards.
Ferrand finished with 232 yards passing and 125 yards rushing.
With the lack of an experienced quarterback, Carter decided to change his offensive philosophy going into the 2013 season from a spread passing attack to more of a read option.
As Ferrand has polished his passing skills, the Eagles have drifted back toward the spread and throwing the football. Carter said Ferrand’s running ability as well as his improved passing has made the entire offense more effective and has ignited the late-season surge.
"They have to leave an extra man in the box," Carter said. "That leaves a few more passing options open."
Ferrand has burned opposing defenses in just about every way possible, amassing more than 1,500 yards passing with 14 touchdowns while rushing for better than 1,100 yards and 10 scores. He has even caught 500 yards worth of passes from backup quarterback Jaykob Henry earlier in the season, scoring four more TDs.
Carter said that Ferrand turned the corner from a project quarterback to proven leader against Mount Ida in week six when he threw for 233 yards and ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns in a heartbreaking, 31-27 loss.
"That was the game he almost brought us back and won," Carter said. "He put our team on his back that night."
The Eagles take on a tall order in the Carslisle Bison on Friday.
But no matter how it ends, Carter’s quarterback will likely again leave his mark.